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Category: Organization

How the Chief Customer Officer role will evolve

We talk to companies regularly that focus heavily on CX. The role of the CCO, always attracts big debate. People ask what should the CCO do. They enquire what’s the best reporting structure? They ask how the role of CCO will evolve?

This article is a thought leadership view. But, we are going to ask you a more difficult question.

If you want to lead significant customer experience change, what preparation is needed? How do you prepare now and what do you do later?

Firstly, Customer Experiences impacts every aspect of the company. Look at the diagram below and focus for the moment on the left hand column. Remember the traditional company structure will define a responsibility for each of the focus components. This diagram shows how CX impacts every aspect of the operation. Because we are looking at our operation slightly differently we now have the opportunity to create innovated next practice.

CCO Operations

Let’s look at an  example

Lets look at processes (row three of the diagram). Different parts of the organisation look at process differently e.g. the manifestation of process within the CX function is the customer journey. Traditional customer journey mapping identifies moments of truth. The level of emotion with that moment of trust is measured. Initiatives to improve that emotion are then brain stormed, prioritised and implemented. Conversely, traditional process excellence typically maps internal processes using swim lane or value stream approaches and then waste defect and variation is identified and removed. The concept of customer is discussed but mostly plays second fiddle to the internal efficiency agenda.

In many cases, traditional journey mapping remediation and process remediation approaches are massively sub-optimal. The CCO will also know that unless customer journey and internal process remediation are brought together in parallel then the level of missed opportunity extrapolates even further. This will not necessarily understood by the rest of the organisation and therefore the CCO has the opportunity to add massive value if he/she has the authority and influence to do things differently..

Let’s build on this Further. This is where the next generation of Chief Customer Officer steps in.

  • The CCO will understand the need for a simple view of process so all stake holders can understand exactly what is going on.
  • He/she will understand Voice of Customer is no longer the best method of deriving customer understanding. He/she will know of new approaches for e.g. outcome based thinking techniques that perform significantly better.
  • The CCO will understand the dangers of traditional “inside/out” thinking which concentrates on internal issues such as waste, velocity, defect and variation – without sufficient consideration of customer.
  • The CCO will build internal change teams to include members of the business who are trained to understand the change methods and so they can contribute to the change process. This sounds obvious but most of todays change methods are complex so members of the business cannot meaningfully contribute. Ensuring change methods are more simple to understand and apply creates an inclusive culture of change which fosters acceptance. Imposed change always creates resistance. This is the number 1 reason why so many change projects underperform!
  • He/she will understand process change methodologies viewed as best practice in 2016 are still way to complex (originally designed for the production line).
  • The CCO knows accelerating change momentum is created by firstly focusing on the people in the context of capability, empowerment and motivation.
  • He/she will know that that culture change is usually met with resistance therefore strong leadership, persuasion, selling, empathy and negotiation skills will be necessary with compromise needed to achieve a greater good.

Wow – all this and we have only touched one topic! Now look at the diagram again and consider the other topics. They will require just as much rigor.

Today’s CCO needs to be a true polymath – a renaissance man! This role is now becoming the most challenging part of the C-suite

Article by Charles Bennett 

Leadership Lesson: Customer Experience

I remember having a lengthy and engaging conversation over a dinner with a newly hired C-Level exec at a large multi-national corporation that was struggling to differentiate itself at the customer experience front.

The below diagram illustrates an organizational structure that was deployed at that time:

Unsurprisingly, the topic of discussion was customer experience and we spent an entire dinner debating various best practices and innovative strategies to successfully transform an organization into a truly customer centric entity.

The exec in question was fresh and had a lot of great ideas and energy – i was almost certain that he would bring about the desperately needed change for turning his organization around and hence we concluded our discussion with the following principles:

  • develop a shared customer experience vision (lead from the front)
  • setup a formal customer experience function (role, responsibility, customer/segment ownership, empowerment, VOC, communication, people and cultural change)
  • setup a cross functional team (shared targets, KPIs, incentives & multi-channel design, development and an end-to-end customer processes/ competencies)
  • technology is a key enabler however the journey should begin from the customer!

The following few months saw the exec immersing himself in the corporate cultural routines of the organization – and after various deliberations he introduced the following structure:

 The exec titled himself as the Chief Customer Officer – had the key customer facing and communications functions i.e. CS, marketing and sales organizations reporting directly into him and introduced a new Customer Experience organization.

On the paper, the structure looked good and reflected management’s intention to bring about serious change within the company – however, a half year later, the company failed to produce any material change to its customer experience offering and unsurprisingly a year later, the exec had moved on to manage another business unit within that organization.

Where did the exec go wrong?

Here are a number of areas where he could have managed better:

  • he had setup a customer experience function/ organization but he didn’t empower or support the team with formal P&L authority
  • he could have lead from the front and sponsor the customer experience program e.g. smart companies place customer experience agenda at regular board level meetings
  • although, he had the key customer facing functions reporting to him – he had them running in isolation and there was no (formal/informal) cross functional collaboration

Of course, there are other areas where he could have done things differently (e.g. the recruitment of key individuals were based on reshuffle rather than considered talent acquisition and management strategy) – overall, the above areas became source of his demise.

How could the exec have walked the talk?

“An organization’s ability to deliver multi or cross channel experience is as effective as the collaboration among its functional counterparts”

  • The below diagram highlights the key ingredient missing from the exec’s customer experience organizational plan – he had underestimated the need to glue various functional organizations
  • Without an appropriate cross functional collaboration it is difficult for an organization to deliver a truly multi or cross channel customer experience (e.g. a contact centre may win best customer service awards but same may not be said about its IVR or Retail experience)
  • lastly, customer experience leaders should embrace an organizational complexity and be prepared to take the lead as true customer experience transformists!

Has your organization been designed from a customer experience perspective? Who owns customer experience within your organization? How do you encourage cross functional collaboration with your organization? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Source: Zaheer Gilani,

Copyright © 2019 by Martin van Krimpen